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Reagan-Grobachev Meeting in Iceland

October 19, 1986

The losers at Reykjavik were the people of the United States and the Soviet Union. The true protagonists at the summit were not Reagan and Gorbachev but you and me and the people of the world, and the issue was not which country would "win" the negotiations but whether the human race could survive on a planet loaded with enough nuclear bombs to destroy more than a million Hiroshimas.

Reykjavik offered an opportunity for a significant achievement in nuclear arms reduction, and the chief obstacle to success was Reagan's insistance on Star Wars. This insistance shows that Reagan and his advisers are still committed to security through military and technological means, an outdated mode of thinking in the age of the nuclear bomb.

Our President endows Star Wars with a sanctimonious quality. He seems to regard our development of a space-based missile defense system as a moral imperative, one that the Soviets are trying to frustrate. This posture of virtue only serves to obscure the true aspects of Star Wars.

Star Wars would intensify the arms race. It would militarize space, filling the heavens with a hazardous network of nuclear-driven devices, would-be Chernobyls in the sky. Its cost would be tremendous. It would be subject to a variety of relatively simple countermeasures.

It is beset with a host of technological unknowns; the weight of objective scientific opinion is that it could not achieve an effective shield against nuclear attack. Its reliability under actual battle conditions would be untestable, so that we would never trust it sufficiently to abandon our offensive nuclear capability. In the name of defense, it would create new exotic weapons of destruction, particle beams and X-ray lasers with reaction times of the order of seconds.

The fantasy of SDI as a shield to protect the American people against nuclear weapons is tailor-made for the opponents of arms control. Many among them harbor the dangerous illusion of defeating the Soviet Union in a nuclear war and support Star Wars as a part of such a scenario. They are willing to risk the extermination of civilization and possibly the human race in the pursuit of that end.


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